Richard Nowitz

Pilgrims and tourists visit the Garden Tomb, a burial chamber in Jerusalem often proposed as the burial place of Jesus. The tomb’s serene setting amid geraniums and oleander provides a place for meditation and prayer, as well as respite from the bustle of modern Jerusalem just a few feet beyond the walls.

To the tour guide’s left, a shadow-darkened doorway marks the entrance to the cave carved into the hill. The dressed stones next to the doorway, topped by a small window, were not built when the chamber was hewn, but sometime after.

On the hill, above, left, a stone wall separates the grounds of the Garden Tomb from the adjacent Moslem cemetery. On the northwest slope of this hill is the Dominican monastery of St. Étienne.

Recent archaeological investigations have revealed that both the Garden Tomb and two cave tombs at St. Étienne were carved into the same rocky escarpment. These tombs were all part of the northern cemetery of Jerusalem during the First Temple period, in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. The Garden Tomb cave was later reused, but this was in the Byzantine period and in the Middle Ages, not in the time of Jesus.